April 26, 1954 -
During the spring of 1974, Southern Methodist University (SMU) sophomore Christine Loock placed ninth in both the one- and three-meter springboard diving events at the Southwest Conference Championships— competing against men. When asked about diving against the guys, Loock retorted “the men have more strength, but I’ve got prettier legs.” The following year, Loock took third place at the Southwest Conference Championships on the three-meter springboard—again against men. This time when questioned on what the guys felt about being beaten by a girl, she quietly said “How do you think I feel not beating them?”; by then she had won 2 U.S. National Women’s titles in both events.
Loock’s father Carl captained the South Dakota state championship team in swimming and diving. Relocating to Fort Worth during World War II, Carl became known as the Pioneer of Texas Diving. During his 35 year career teaching hundreds of children to swim and dive, Carl coached divers at Marine Park, Ridglea, and Panther City Boys Club who won state, national, and international competitions. Carl even developed a trampoline and harness technique to teach his kids the correct diving form.
The Loock children—Vicki, Cal, and Christine—all began diving at an early age. In fact, Christine won silver in her first event at age five, competing against ten-year-olds. Under the tutelage of their father Carl, all three children went on to become All American state champions, with Cal on full diving scholarship to SMU. Since there were no athletic scholarship opportunities for women, Christine attended SMU and Vicki attended the University of Texas at Arlington, both under academic scholarships. After Title IX was enacted, Vicki became the first women’s diving coach at SMU.
Christine was head cheerleader and valedictorian of her 1972 Castleberry High School class. While in high school, she competed in the 1971 Pan Am Games. She also received the Betty Crocker Future Homemaker Award, “Most Likely to Succeed” recognition, along with top awards for math, English, and sports. Loock arrived at SMU in the fall of 1972, where she competed on the men’s diving team. She became the first woman in conference (and U.S. history) to earn a varsity letter on a men’s swimming team. Graduating Summa Cum Laude from SMU in 1976, she became the first woman in the U.S. to earn a National Collegiate Athletic Association post-graduate scholarship to study medicine at Harvard.
As a diver, Loock was a five time U.S. National Diving Champion on all three levels (1, 3 and 10 meter) , and won a bronze medal in the three-meter springboard at the 1975 World Championships. At age 21, she was ranked the world’s top female diver by the international aquatics federation (FINA). Loock took a year off from her medical studies at Harvard to do research during the late 1970s to train for the Olympics, but her efforts came to naught as the United States boycotted the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. In consolation, she captured one more U.S. National Title on 10-meter springboard!
While at the 1971 Pan Am Games in South America, Loock had met Canadian diver Ronald G. Friesen. A decade later, while completing her pediatric residency at the University of Washington, Loock reunited with Friesen who was studying law in Vancouver, British Columbia. As a pediatric doctor studying Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, she married him and moved to Canada. They are the parents of three children—two girls and a boy. Their oldest daughter, Emma Friesen, won the 2008 NCAA championships in the one-meter springboard event for the University of Hawaii—continuing the family tradition in diving.